This past weekend we attended a funeral. Before communion the priest said, “Everyone is welcome for a blessing but not all can take communion. You have to be Catholic and in good standing.”
Now, don't get me wrong or start stoning me to death, I'm making a point about religion versus grace. I grew up attending the Catholic Church when God began calling me but as I grew older and more rebellious, I left the church. It wasn't until years laters that I went back to God.
As I sat there listening, I began to reflect back on my childhood years growing up in church and realized that there were so many rituals and rules we had to follow in order to receive a blessing or forgiveness. I always felt like I wasn't good enough or God was mad at me. I couldn't do enough to “seem good enough.”
It made me wonder how many people sitting in church that day were there for the first time or the first time in a long time. Did they feel unworthy or rejected by what the priest said? How many just had a unclean thought or argument before arriving to the church? Are they worthy to receive communion? We were denied communion because we weren't Catholic and according to the priest, “Not in right standing."
I admit, it got me a little upset. Not so much because of communion but because the ones who don't know the truth just accepted it because the priest said so.
To deny someone something because of religion, law or tradition is unjust. The priest that day reminded me of the Sadducees and Pharisees of Jesus’ time. They followed so many rituals and rules that they were blinded to grace. They couldn't even see grace walking among them. The same goes for today. People are being beat down by religion that they forget to demonstrate what Jesus gave freely-grace (the unmerited favor of God toward man.)
I like how this one writer puts it. "God's grace does not overlook sin; it punishes sin, but in a way which forgives those who are guilty." Bob Deffinbaugh https://bible.org
There are many examples of Jesus demonstrating grace in the bible to counteract religion. He forgave many people because of grace, not because of religion.
Religion rejects but GRACE accepts.
Religion condems but GRACE forgives.
Religion holds judgement but GRACE releases.
Scripture : ROMANS 3- entire passage